West Ham 2-3 Aston Villa: Rachel Daly’s stunning stoppage-time winner relieves pressure on Carla Ward

On the back of registering their first league victory of the season at the sixth time of asking against Bristol City at Ashton Gate a week ago, Aston Villa manager Carla Ward unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting line-up for her side’s journey to the capital.

WHU: Arnold; Cooke, Shimizu, Tysiak, Filis, Smith; Cissoko, Stringer, Harries; Asseyi, Ueki

AVL: Daphne van Domselaar; Mayling, Patten, Turner, Pacheco; Blindkilde-Brown, Corsie, Dali; Leon, Hanson, Daly

Hoping to put their comprehensive 5-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United last weekend behind them, West Ham began on the front foot as Daphne van Domselaar got down instinctively to deny Riko Ueki’s downward header from finding the back of the net on the stroke of the quarter-hour mark.

However, there was nothing that the Villa goalkeeper could do to prevent the hosts from taking the lead in the 27th minute as Viviane Asseyi confidently stepped up to the spot to fire the ball beyond van Domselaar following Adriana Leon’s foul on Kirsty Smith just inside of the penalty area.

Embed from Getty Images

Nonetheless, Villa did not have to wait long to get back on level terms as Anna Patten headed home her first-ever goal in the Barclays Women’s Super League four minutes after Rachel Daly’s header had deflected its way to the path of the marauding forward defender at the back post.

Leon then thought she had redeemed herself close to the sound of the half-time whistle, however, in controversial fashion as the winger saw her goal chalked off the scoresheet after referee Keith Stroud adjudged the Canadian international to have strayed marginally offside in the build-up prior to her firing the ball beyond Mackenzie Arnold in the Hammers’ goal.

Deservingly, Carla Ward’s side took charge of the contest with only five minutes on the clock in the second half as Leon finally got her first goal for Villa with a sublime half-volleyed finish that nestled nicely into the far corner of the net.

Embed from Getty Images

Seeking an immediate response, West Ham thought they had achieved their aim but were instead left disappointed as van Domselaar magnificently got down to tip Asseyi’s goalbound effort around the post before Abbey-Leigh Stringer hit the top of the crossbar from the resulting corner.

After a barren spell in front of goal at both ends of the pitch, West Ham substitute Lisa Evans reignited the atmosphere around the Chigwell Construction Stadium with 10 minutes left of regular time – after being on the turf for only a matter of moments – with an awe-inspiring strike from outside of the area that rocketed past van Domselaar.

In more unbelievable circumstances, Villa would depart their coach from the capital with a precious three points, as last season’s WSL Golden Boot winner, Daly, unleashed a spectacular half-volley that flew past Arnold into the back of the net in the second minute of second-half stoppage-time. Daly’s eventful afternoon was not finished there as the England international crucially saved her side two points by clearing a late effort off the line.

The victory lifts Aston Villa up to ninth position in the Barclays Women’s Super League standings ahead of a return to the familiar backdrop of Villa Park in a week’s time, with Everton on course to visit the second city. Meanwhile, West Ham United now remain without a league victory in front of their supporters in a double-digit number of matches (10) – stretching back over a calendar year.